After graduating from Cal State Long
Beach with a degree in Child Development, Jennifer Fitzgerald became an
entrepreneur by opening Growing Years in 1989, a corporate childcare
and preschool program located in downtown Long Beach. One day
as Jennifer drove down a busy Long Beach street, she saw an unattended
toddler wandering alone, wearing only a diaper, his parents nowhere to
be seen. This is the historical context for the creation of Children
Born a fighter on March 15, 1966, Jennifer survived her
first of four open-heart surgeries at just 9 months old. Jennifer, or
Jenn to her friends, was the second of four daughters of Mike and Kathy
Choppin. Jennifer defied the odds and lived an active life swimming,
sailing and skiing until her unfortunate death to heart failure in
2005. Few people knew of her heart condition because she had
such tremendous energy. Jenn had an indomitable spirit, a passion for
life, and she laughed easily and often. She loved her family and
friends with all her heart. Her early departure reminds us to live life
to the fullest by caring for others.
Jenn married Brian Fitzgerald in 1991 and they produced 2 beautiful children - Katy and Jack.
In 1997, Jenn inspired a group of these women to form Children
Today, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enrich the lives
of homeless children by providing a nurturing childcare and preschool
for those children whose parents needed a second chance. Jennifer was
not only the inspiration, but the driving force behind Children Today’s
“The Play House West.”
Jennifer was a 1999 Graduate of Leadership Long Beach and went on to serve on the board of Leadership Long Beach.
with Jennifer Fitzgerald, Theresa Bixby founded Children Today in 1997.
Theresa and Jennifer had the ability to nurture the organization from
an idea to a community service that now serves hundreds of families in
need each year. Today, Theresa continues to serve as Vice President of
the board of directors.
Before founding Children Today,
Theresa served as MIS Project Manager for TRW Enterprise Solutions in
Long Beach, where she met Jennifer Fitzgerald. She has a long track
record of community involvement, having served as the PTA President for
Charles F. Kettering Elementary School from 2001 to 2005, board member
for Pursuit of Excellence, and a member of Stand for Children.
earned a bachelor’s degree in both Mathematics and Computer Science
from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a member of the
U.S. National Women’s Water Polo Team for ten years, six of which she
served as captain. Theresa also coached the Norwegian Women’s National
Water Polo Team. Theresa lives in Long Beach with her husband and three